Among the many pieces of regressive legislation being pushed through the provincial parliament by the Ford government, Bill 39, the so-called “Better Municipal Governance Act" is one of the more egregious.
The CWNA made the following submission to the Standing Committee on Heritage, Infrastructure and Cultural Policy during the comments period:
CWNA Position on Bill 39 - Expanded Strong Mayor Powers
The strong mayor powers about to be enacted by the Ontario legislature for the cities of Toronto and Ottawa deprive local communities of their full say in decisions affecting their lives. Bill 39 should be withdrawn.
At the request of Toronto Mayor John Tory, the Doug Ford government is proposing legislation that would allow the mayor to pass bylaws with the support of just 8 of 25 city councillors. We at the Church Wellesley Neighbourhood Association deplore this move to concentrate so much power in one top elected official.
We join former Toronto mayors David Crombie, Art Eggleton, Barbara Hall, David Miller and John Sewell in their warning that the newly proposed powers eliminate “any meaningful role of city councillors and therefore the voice of the local residents who elect them.”
Mayor Tory has pledged that he will only use the powers sparingly. That is to say he will only ignore the wishes of the majority of council when he deems it necessary. This is too much discretion for any one elected official to wield.
What is even more worrying is that these powers, once in place, can be abused by any future mayors to bypass the majority of council.
The province has already passed legislation granting the mayor power to veto council decisions believed to “potentially intervene with provincial priorities,” which makes the mayor first and foremost accountable to the province rather than the people of Toronto. Bill 39’s proposed expanded power to pass bylaws with only one-third of council is extreme and unacceptable.
Local quality of life issues will suffer. Decisions about such matters as development, housing, transit, and the environment - all of which are or could be declared provincial priorities - will now be subject to mayoral fiat. The province will have yet another tool to override local representatives.
We urge the province to drop this ill-considered and profoundly undemocratic legislation and demand that Mayor Tory take back his request for these autocratic powers.